LOS ANGELES (AP) — Thieves rushed into a Southern California Nordstrom store the night before Thanksgiving and ran off with pricey goods in the latest of a string of organized retail thefts.

Five people, one wearing an orange wig, entered the open store shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Westfield Topanga Mall in the Canoga Park area of Los Angeles, took seven or eight expensive purses and fled in a car, police said.

A security guard was sprayed with some kind of chemical by the thieves and was treated at the scene, police said.

Police cars and ambulances converged on the mall but there were no immediate arrests.

Multiple police cruisers, as well as fire trucks and ambulances, were seen parked outside the Nordstrom store at the popular shopping complex in Canoga Park.

At least a dozen shoppers appeared to be standing outside.

In recent weeks, gangs of crooks, some armed with hammers and crowbars, have smashed their way into closed high-end stores and made off with tens of thousands of dollars in goods, authorities said.

Police have responded by stepping up patrols and stores have been increasing security.

On Monday night, about 20 people struck a Nordstrom store at The Grove retail and entertainment complex in Los Angeles and fled with about $5,000 worth of merchandise, police said.

Such thefts also have targeted the San Francisco Bay Area.

In Santa Rosa, four young men ran into an Apple Store Wednesday morning and fled with $20,000 in goods, police said.

Police in Palo Alto announced Wednesday that two women had been arrested in connection with a Sunday night attempt to steal items from the RealReal clothing boutique downtown.

Police said 30 to 40 people arrived in some 20 cars and tried to break down the glass front door but it held. A security guard reported the effort and the crowd fled as police arrived.

The women were stopped in a car where police said they found at least $15,000 in clothes from a second RealReal location that was burglarized in Larkspur earlier that night.

Meanwhile, five people pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony charges involving thefts in San Francisco. Nine people have been charged in connection with Friday night attacks on stores including Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Bloomingdale’s in the downtown area and in Union Square, a posh shopping district popular with tourists that was teeming with holiday shoppers.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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